Home > church > Living in the New Covenant, part 1, by Larry McKnight
The New Covenant is amazing.  It’s written in Jesus’ Blood, it’s the way God relates to us, it’s what separates us from not being in a covenant.  That sounds simplistic, but covenant partners have benefits…I think it is better contrasted against the Old Covenant…I’m going to propose that a lot of us, and a lot of our friends, know more about the Old Covenant than the New.
I would also propose that we relate more to the Old Covenant than we relate to the New.  And I will tell you this, in Jesus’ Name, He wants that to change.  I’m going to read the elements of the New Covenant:  Hebrews 8: 7 ‘For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.  For finding fault with them, He says, “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah;  not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not care for them, says the Lord.”
That (Old) Covenant was stated this way by God – ‘If you hear My Voice and if you do what I command, I will be with you, you will be My people and then you will be kings and priests to Me. ‘  There was a condition to it, and it wasn’t an unfair condition…But, it says here, there was a fault found with that Covenant; so the New Covenant is ‘not like the covenant’ I made with their fathers…one thing I want to mention are the Scriptures in the Old Testament, where the people responded to Moses (in Exodus) and said, we’re going to do what the Lord says; we’re going to do that – and that line was repeated over and over again.
But they didn’t.  And they couldn’t.  And we all found ourselves in the same situation – desiring to do what was right, but not being able to do it.  But the Lord knew that, and He came down and went through the entrance to our world through a Baby.  He became incarnate, He became “us,” He lived with our vulnerabilities, He grew up and lived a life without sin but touched with the feeling of our infirmities, as it says in Hebrews chapter 4.
But here in chapter 8 the Covenant is established, and it says, ‘For this is the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord:  I will put their laws into their minds, I will write them on their hearts, and I will be their God,  and they shall be My people; and they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all will know Me; from the least to the greatest of them. ‘  Here’s the other part:  ‘For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.’   When He said ‘a new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. “I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
He has declared that He will be our God and we will be His people, based on the work Jesus did on the cross.  Based on the shed Blood for the forgiveness of sin, based on the fact that Jesus rose from the dead by the power of God, and overcame death as the final enemy, God is with us and we are with Him.  His Name is Immanuel.  He will have mercy on our iniquities, and our sins and lawless deeds He will strike from His mind, He won’t remember them anymore.
This is a very different situation than the first Covenant…In this Covenant, it’s all done in the person of Jesus Christ, and we’re drawn into that.  It’s quite an amazing thing…In chapter 10 of Hebrews, verses 11 and 12, a contrast between the Old Covenant and New Covenant is established once again, and it is regarding the priesthood and ministering offerings.  Verse 11 states, ‘Every priests stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.’  But here’s verse 12:   but He – that’s Jesus – ‘having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.  For by one offering He’ – Jesus –has ‘perfected for all time those who are sanctified.’
And the revelation we got out of that a few weeks ago was spectacular to me, and I want to restate it:  by some means that I don’t fully understand,  the sacrifice that Jesus made on the Cross, of His body and Blood, the victory that was secured through His resurrection, and the positioning He now holds as King of Kings and Lord of Lords in the heavenlies, with us, drawn up into Him, that whole work forever perfected you and me, who are in the process of being sanctified. Meaning, there’s still stuff in our life that needs  to be cleaned up; there’s still stuff in our life that needs to be brought before the cleansing of Jesus’ Blood; there’s still stuff in our life that needs to be opened up to the Light of Revelation, so we can say, sorry, Lord.  Or yes, Lord; or whatever.  It doesn’t nullify grace to apologize for something that you’ve been ignorant of, and had been revealed to you.  We are still people being sanctified.
So this takes away all the mystery and the confusion of the perfection that the Bible speaks about.  This New Covenant that we live in is a place where we are perfected by His work and being sanctified, literally, by something.   We’re being sanctified, set apart, to be holy, set apart for holy use, by something;  and what is that something?  So we’re in the process of sanctification and we’re standing before the Father, perfect in Christ.  Let’s go…and see how this sanctification works.
And here’s what God made Paul, and makes every preacher, every minister that is under the anointing and calling, adequate for:  ‘But our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.  So – all of us who find ourselves preaching and teaching and exhorting and what I’m trying to do for this house and for you guys, is only going to find its expression and only going to find its worth as we’re being made adequate as servants of the New Covenant.”
Paul continues, ‘So if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.  For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it,’ speaking of the glory of the New Covenant.  ‘For if that which faces away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.  Therefore, having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the end of what was fading away. ‘  And then he begins to explain what the problem is, with this.  He says, ‘But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ.  But to this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.’
Now the thing I said that concerns me – and I include myself in this – is that we more naturally relate, more naturally react to, the conditions of the Old Covenant than we do the New Covenant.  Let me see if you agree:  when you commit a sin, how many of you feel ugh! about it?  OK, I do.  I think we relate to that ugh!  feeling on the basis of how we perceive the Old Covenant to be.  In other words, we know that we’re supposed to live in a righteous way, there’s things  such as don’t covet, don’t steal, don’t do this, and when we do it we react ugh!, I’ve blown it.  I would suggest that if we related according to the New Covenant, our reaction would be different.  I might still think that thought, or say those words, or be tempted to be ashamed, but that would be the essence of living in the New Covenant – I’m tempted to be ashamed, but I’m not ashamed; because the New Covenant is not a place of shame, it’s a place of perfection while being sanctified.  It’s really different.